Seven things you need to know about hip replacement surgery
Hip replacement surgery is one of the most common joint replacement procedures in the United States. Surgeons perform more than 450,000 hip replacements each year.
What is hip replacement surgery, exactly? During hip replacement (also called total hip arthroplasty), an orthopaedic surgeon replaces the ball and socket joint of your hip joint with artificial implants. These implants are usually made of metal, plastic, and ceramic. Your doctor may recommend hip replacement surgery if more conservative treatments, such as physical therapy and medication, haven’t improved your symptoms. For most people, a hip replacement results in less pain, improved mobility, and increased range of motion.
If you’re considering hip replacement surgery, you probably have many questions. Here are the top seven things you need to know about the procedure.
1. THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF HIP REPLACEMENT SURGERY
The most common type of hip replacement surgery is total hip replacement. Your doctor removes the damaged cartilage and bone and replaces your whole hip — the top of your thighbone and the socket that it fits into — with a prosthetic joint.
The thighbone implant includes a metal stem and ceramic or metal ball. The socket is usually made of plastic. Most artificial joints last 20 to 30 years, so you may never need another hip replacement.
For a partial hip replacement, your surgeon replaces only the ball of your hip joint. This procedure is rare and is typically recommended to repair a hip fracture or remove certain types of tumors.
2. YOUR SURGEON WILL CHOOSE THE MOST APPROPRIATE SURGICAL METHOD FOR YOU
The posterior and anterior approaches are the two most common total hip replacement methods. With posterior hip replacement, your doctor makes an incision on the back of your hip, near your buttocks. With anterior hip replacement, the doctor makes an incision on the front of your hip. Both can be done as minimally invasive procedures, which means your surgeon makes a smaller incision and cuts less tissue and muscle to access the hip joint.
At Beebe Healthcare, we offer both surgical methods. Our team of orthopaedic experts will determine which approach is right for you.
3. THERE ARE SOME POTENTIAL RISKS OF HIP REPLACEMENT SURGERY
Hip replacement is a safe and effective procedure, but as with any surgery, it does come with some risks. The most common complications are blood clots and infections.
To reduce the risk of blood clots, your doctor will likely prescribe blood-thinning medications. Your care team will also help you start walking with a walker as soon as possible after surgery. In addition, you can use compression stockings or inflatable air sleeves to help improve blood flow in your legs.
Infection may occur at the incision or in the deeper tissue around the new hip. Parts of the artificial hip may also become infected. Typically, an infection can be treated with antibiotics. But in severe cases, you may need surgery to remove the infected tissue or implant parts.
4. YOU MAY BE ABLE TO GO HOME WITHIN 24 TO 48 HOURS OF SURGERY
Most hip replacement surgeries take one to two hours, and you will likely spend a night or two in the hospital. At Beebe Healthcare, we also offer hip replacement as outpatient surgery, which means you may be able to go home the same day. Your surgeon will let you know if you’re a candidate for this procedure.
5. YOU WILL NEED SUPPORT FROM FAMILY AND FRIENDS AFTER SURGERY
Before you go home, our care team will make sure you can get in and out of bed and get to the bathroom. You won’t be able to drive after your surgery, so you’ll need to make sure you have someone to take you home.
Once you get home, it’s a good idea to have friends, family, or hired caretakers ready to assist you with personal hygiene, household tasks, and errands, such as dressing, cooking, and shopping, for a few weeks. At first, you’ll need to walk with a walker. After about a month, you should be able to walk with a cane. After two months, you may be able to walk with no help at all.
When it comes to driving, your doctor will likely allow you to get behind the wheel about four to six weeks after surgery. You may be able to drive sooner if your left leg is the one that was operated on.
6. YOU WILL DO PHYSICAL THERAPY TO RECOVER
Physical therapy is a crucial part of the healing process. You will start exercises as soon as 24 hours after your surgery. Your physical therapist will give you exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles around your hip joint. They will also focus on helping to improve your balance so that you can safely return to your normal activities.
Everyone responds differently to hip replacement surgery. The amount of time you’ll need to do physical therapy varies, but you can expect to commit to it for at least six to eight weeks. At Beebe Healthcare, we can provide physical therapy in your home or at one of our physical rehabilitation offices in Sussex County.
7. YOU’LL BE ABLE TO RETURN TO YOUR NORMAL LIFE AND WORK
After hip replacement surgery, most people can return to their normal activities within six weeks to three months. Full recovery from hip replacement surgery takes about a year.
You can expect less pain and increased range of motion after joint replacement surgery. In other words, you’ll feel good in your body and be able to get back to doing the things you love. If you’re interested in hip replacement surgery, talk to your primary care provider about getting a referral to an orthopaedic specialist near you. Need a primary care provider? Call 302-645-3332 to schedule an appointment with a Beebe Healthcare doctor.